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#TheUnknownHustle: Harrison Ford

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September 13, 2018

Harrison Ford’s appearance smacks of a big-budget star, but that wasn’t so much the case when the Star Wars actor first started out in the biz. On a $150-per-week contract with Columbia Pictures, his first appearance on screen was as an extra in director Bernard Girard’s Dead Heat on a Merry-Go-Round. His task was to play a bellhop. “I delivered a note or a telegram or something to James Coburn and my lines were, ‘Paging Mr. Jones, Mr. Jones, paging Mr. Jones’ and he raised his hand and […] I gave him the note and that was my job,” he told late night show host Conan O’Brien in November 2013.

 

The very next day, Ford was called into the office of Columbia’s head of new talent division. “He said, ‘Sit down kid, I saw the rushes from yesterday, you're never going to make it in the business—just forget about it,’” Ford recalled. “He said, ‘The first movie Tony Curtis was ever in he delivered a bag of groceries. You took one look at that guy and you said that's a movie star.’ And I leaned across his desk and said, ‘I thought you were supposed to think that was a grocery delivery boy.’ He said, ‘Get out of my office,’ which I was happy to do. I didn't last much longer with them.”

 

Rather than give up, Ford took work as a carpenter, only choosing to accept roles which he felt drawn to instead of taking anything to up his bank balance. Fifteen years later, Ford was eating at a restaurant. That same executive was there, and he sent the waiter over to Ford’s table with a message. “I picked up the business card and written on it was 'I missed my bet' and I turned it over and it was the name of the guy and much to my great, immediate pleasure—it still gives me a little bit of pleasure now.”